Guess which of the following political entities is happiest about the way Republican Gov. Paul LePage is doing his job:

a. the Tea Party, which is delighted with LePage’s blunt talk and the dismay he causes in establishment circles,

b. mainstream members of the GOP, who have qualms about LePage’s behavior and the distractions he causes, but are content to once again be running things in Augusta,

c. Democrats, who think the LePage follies will help them regain power in short order, even though they have no candidates any sane person would seriously consider voting for,

d. Eliot Cutler.

The correct answer is: e. all of the above, which means LePage has accomplished something no Maine governor has ever been able to achieve: He’s spread joy across the entire ideological spectrum.

However, that’s not the spin the Cutler contingent is trying to sell. They keep reminding people that if the former independent candidate from Cape Elizabeth (by way of the People’s Republic of China) had won the last gubernatorial election, our state’s chief executive would be someone who’s refined, well-spoken and respected, both at home and in Beijing. Murals would be unmolested. Butt-kissing invitations would be unissued. The state Department of Health and Human Services would issue free hormones to women with little beards. And the number of dignitaries vacationing in Jamaica during the current legislative session would have been reduced by one. (Cutler prefers the South China Sea.)

Also, negative comments about him on anonymous websites would be illegal. (Cutler learned a few things about free speech from his time among the Chinese commies.)

Cutler ran a credible campaign for governor in 2010, mostly because he had plenty of his own money to pay for it. It took a while for his handlers to convince him that his initial pitch – I’m way smarter than you boobs, so shut up and vote for me – needed work. But he eventually transformed himself into a more likeable figure – I love mingling with you common folks, but don’t touch me – and nearly caught LePage in the campaign’s final week.

Since then, Cutler has been busy pretending he’s not gearing up for another run for governor. “It’s far too early to think about anything like that,” he told his official campaign newsletter, the Portland Press Herald. Instead, he’s been organizing what he calls “a political gathering place for the thousands of Mainers who no longer feel connected to a political party.”

I thought that’s what bars are for.

Cutler’s “gathering place” is called OneMaine, and it’s neither party nor pub. It’s a political action committee, designed to fund what the Press Herald called “policy issues and getting moderate candidates elected.”

It’s not clear who gets to define “moderate,” but I’m catching an odor that indicates his first name will rhyme with Smeliot.

According to an editorial in Cutler’s other official campaign publication, the Bangor Daily News, “Mr. Cutler is safe in assuming that voters are tired of choosing between two nearly mutually exclusive political platforms.” Instead, they want to “stroll the aisles of the political market and pick up what they like from each party and turn their backs on what they don’t.”

Such as lame metaphors.

Here’s the problem with that approach. Most voters have the following items on their lame metaphorical shopping lists: a strong economy that encourages job creation; affordable energy; an excellent education system; a first-rate transportation network; clean air, land and water; effective public safety services; and a welfare system that helps those in need without encouraging dependency or sloth.

Here’s what’s not on their lists: higher taxes to pay for it all.

Those that the Cutler cult would label as extremists are actually just people who acknowledge that incongruity. Honest conservatives admit the only way to keep taxes under control is to reduce spending on popular programs. Forthright liberals confess that in order to provide all the services they promise, taxes will have to be increased.

Anybody who says otherwise – and here I’m thinking of people whose first names rhyme with Smeliot – isn’t a moderate. That person is a liar.

If Cutler ever becomes governor, there’s no way of predicting what course he might follow. During his campaign, he promised to reorganize government, reduce regulations and lower electricity costs. In other words, he’d do what LePage is doing, minus the village idiot impersonation. But unlike that alleged right-wing extremist, Cutler’s agenda is a fantasy concocted of whatever soundbites play well with focus groups. In marked contrast to Democrats and other ultra-leftists, he promises everything for the price of nothing.

Even Marden’s can’t do that.

Governing isn’t about making everyone happy. It’s about making hard choices that often end up satisfying no one.

Except realists.

But that’s a small group, and Cutler is writing them off.

Extreme comments may be emailed to me at [email protected]


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